Cats with Anal Sac Disease

Orange tabby halfway in covered litterbox with hind legs and tail sticking out.

Anal sacs aren't visible in cats, although they are present in all of them. Most cats have no difficulties with these tiny body components, but some cats might develop abnormalities that cause pain and interfere with regular basic functioning. As a result, it is critical for cat owners to be aware of the illnesses that anal sacs can cause and the symptoms to check for in their cats.

What Are Anal Sacs in Cats?

Anal sacs, or anal glands, are two little balloon-like bodily components on either side of your cat's rectal hole. Skunks' anal sacs are connected to their scent glands, and the sacs create a stinky fluid that is released when they defecate. They are located close beneath the skin's surface, near the anal sphincter muscles, and are connected to the rectum via a small channel.

The foul fluid can also solidify into a paste within the anal sacs. The anal sacs can become engorged and painful for your cat if they are not expressed properly during feces or manually by your veterinarian.

Types of Anal Sac Diseases in Cats

Anal sacs are typically out of sight and out of mind, but they can occasionally develop issues that require veterinarian attention. The fluids cannot escape the sac if the anal glands become impacted, irritated, or infected. If the fluids do not drain, the sac might burst or rupture, causing a new hole in the skin and sac adjacent to the rectal orifice. This is obviously excruciatingly uncomfortable for your kitty.

Masses or tumors can form in the anal sacs. These lumps, like an infection or an impaction, might hinder secretions from entering the sac and create defecation problems.

Signs of Anal Sac Diseases in Cats

  • Crying when defecating
  • Blood in stool
  • Blood on surfaces after sitting or lying down
  • Sticky anal sac secretions on surfaces after sitting or lying down
  • Foul odor from hind end
  • An additional hole in the skin near the rectal area
  • Scooting or dragging the hind end on the floor
  • Incessant licking at the rectal opening
  • Biting at the rectal opening or the hind end

Anal sac disorders produce moderate pain, as well as visible anal gland fluid on surfaces and a bad odor at first. Your cat may cry in agony when defecating as the condition worsens, and and on surfaces where your cat sits or sleeps down. Excessive licking or biting at the rectal entrance or in the broader hind end area might indicate that things are becoming unpleasant or painful. Before a ruptured anal gland develops, the hind end may be scooted or dragged in an attempt to relieve pressure or pain in the anal sacs. Because a rupture is so painful, a cat will usually cry out, leaving an extra hole adjacent to the rectal aperture, as well as a considerable amount of blood and anal sac discharges.

Causes of Anal Sac Diseases in Cats

If anal sacs are not allowed to spontaneously express as a cat defecates, germs and irritation will build up in the sacs, causing difficulties. Several factors can inhibit anal glands from being expressed, resulting in this harmful buildup.

  • Diarrhea - Soft stools and diarrhea do not put enough pressure on a cat's anal sacs and therefore do not encourage them to be expressed during defecation. This can be seen with a variety of diseases including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Obesity - If a cat is obese, the ducts from the anal sacs to the rectal opening may be compressed by fatty tissue and won't allow secretions to be expressed during defecation.
  • Mass/Tumor - A mass or tumor can serve as a space occupying lesion which blocks the drainage of the anal sacs. As a result, the anal sac fluid is not released and fluid will accumulate in the anal sacs.
  • Constipation - If a cat has difficulty defecating or is unable to defecate due to various diseases or other issues such as megacolon, the anal sacs will not naturally express and are prone to developing issues.

Treatment of Anal Sac Diseases in Cats

The anal sacs will need to be emptied if they are compromised. This can be accomplished by manually compressing the sacs or by allowing the sac to drain through a surgical incision. A veterinarian will do a physical examination to determine what is required to provide relief to your cat. Antibiotics, pain relievers, and, on rare occasions, special foods will be suggested to aid your cat's recuperation.

How to Prevent Anal Sac Diseases in Cats

The greatest things you can do for your cat to help avoid anal sac illness are to protect it from becoming overweight and to keep an eye on its stool consistency. Obesity relates to a multitude of diseases, including anal sac disease, so you can help keep your cat trim and hopefully clear of anal sac concerns by boosting physical activity and limiting calorie consumption. In addition to your cat's weight, stool consistency should be monitored to ensure that the anal sacs are routinely expressed. Probiotics, prebiotics, fiber, and other substances can help keep feces solid, reducing the probability of anal sac troubles in your cat.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.